Microsoft Office dominates the productivity suite market, succumbing only recently to Google’s free alternative. Despite the surging popularity of Chromebooks, many users prefer native desktop applications over cloud apps, and are willing to shell out $100 each year for the privilege.
If you’re looking to spend a lot less without sacrificing features, there are compelling options available. Unless you’re a hardcore Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint jockey who frequently collaborates with others, it’s time to take a new breed of all-in-one Office clones for a spin.
All for one
WPS Office for Mac provides Microsoft-style word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations in a single native macOS application under 300MB in size. For comparison’s sake, that’s less than a third of the disk space required to install Word alone.
Unlike the popular suite of standalone applications united by corporate synergy, WPS Writer, Spreadsheets, and Presentation documents coexist within a single tabbed workspace. This approach keeps the screen free of window clutter when jumping between different document types, with the option to consolidate multiple documents of the same ilk into a split-screen view. Naturally, you can drag tabs into their own workspace as well.
Otherwise, WPS Office faithfully mimics the look, feel, and features of Microsoft’s venerable software, although there’s no real-time collaboration. Writer isn’t quite as robust, with little things like contextual menu synonyms—many common words I looked up offered no suggestions at all. The app doesn’t do a great job accurately displaying bold text styling either, appearing only slightly heavier than normal even with standard fonts. (Curiously, the WPS mobile app has no such issues.)
Paying a premium
WPS Office doesn’t just ape the Microsoft experience. There’s also wide compatibility with over 50 document and image file formats. WPS faithfully opened existing documents with formatting and graphics intact, likewise saving files that open without issue in authentic Microsoft apps.
Although WPS Office is free without ads, editing and search are disabled after the initial seven-day trial period. If you need to occasionally open or print Office-compatible documents this will suffice, but for only $4 per month (or $30 annually), WPS Premium unlocks all features, adding robust PDF editing, the ability to export images without watermarks, and 20GB of cloud storage (up to 1GB per document). That’s a good value, especially for individual users who don’t need the extra bells and whistles (Skype credit, Outlook) bundled with an Office 365 subscription.
I did experience one issue logging into WPS Cloud: after entering proper credentials under macOS Mojave, I was unable to log in. Kingsoft engineers tracked this problem to the number of fonts installed (over 2,000!) on my iMac 5K. The situation mostly cleared up after upgrading to macOS Catalina, where WPS Cloud logs in a few moments after launching.
When it comes to budget-priced Microsoft Office clones, WPS Office is one of the more faithful, with a price and features that make it worthy of consideration for individual users.